Yesterday, Variety announced that Ellen Page was in negotiations to star in a remake of Flatliners, the 1990 film about a group of medical students who practice stopping their own hearts in order to see what exists on the other side of death. Also attached are Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the original Swedish adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, and screenwriter Ben Ripley, who is best known for his 2011 screenplay for the Duncan Jones film Source Code.
The original film was a modest success at the box office and even pulled in an Academy Award nomination for best sound effects editing, but its enduring place in film history is due more to Julia Roberts’s star-power than its own mixed reviews. That doesn’t mean it had nothing to say, however; in a creepy bit of parallelism, screenwriter Peter Filardi described Flatliners to the Los Angeles Times as an idea born out of a lack of accountability.
“The script was written during the Irangate (scandal) and the elections, and it seemed to me and to everyone that the big buzzword around the country was accountability – because there didn’t seem to be any . . . not in our lives, not for the politicians. It seemed like wealthy people were getting away with murder.”
And here we are, again talking about a lack of personal accountability in the media, and a Flatliners remake is on its way. While people often get up in arms about Hollywood remakes, Flatliners might be the exact sort of film that could benefit from a few new faces and a fresh coat of paint. If you glance at the last twenty-four hours of Twitter, you’ll find some token resistance to the idea of a remake – mostly since it is a film that many people have heard of and vaguely remember as not being very good – but there’s no denying that Flatliners offers both cast and crew a really solid core idea to work with. Thrillers that treat death as the thin membrane between us and the unspeakable are never not fun; Flatliners doesn’t have to be Jacob’s Ladder to win over its skeptics. We’d all be pretty happy if it was just the next Stir of Echoes.